John Sayles isn’t really touching on anything different than what he accomplished a year prior with Piranha. If anything, he only improved on the Jaws rip off concept.
The film follows homicide detective David Madison as he tries to solve a mysterious case involving severed limbs coming out of the St. Louis sewer system. Once a news reporter (an uncanny Tony Danza look alike) is murdered, photos of the 36-foot long alligator are revealed to the world.
The Alligator (apparently knowing that the secret is out) explodes out of the sewer system and raises hell on the streets. A little boy runs into the house and grabs a knife, which would be a lot more effective if it was a giant loaf of bread attacking St. Louis. Not so much a 36-foot alligator. Finally, a professional alligator hunter is brought in to find and destroy the monster.
Good thing he brings along a bomb squad, which might be useful (and more entertaining) if the alligator started building bombs. Meanwhile, Detective Madison and young reptile enthusiast Marisa Kendall search for the alligator’s origin but end up digging too deep causing David to lose his badge (why not?). As we all know by now, no police officer can ever solve a crime this big (pun intended?) until his badge has been dramatically revoked.
The film is filled with similar clichés and loads of under-acting but in a strange way that’s the appeal of Alligator. This film has long been one of my all time favorite horror movies. In fact it even appeared in my list of Horror Movies That Ruined Every Day Activities for one particular scene with a little boy, a pool and night time.